As the weather turns warmer, the last thing you want is to be stuck in a hot kitchen preparing food. If you’re entertaining, you want easy recipes that let you spend more time with your guests than in the kitchen.
Here are several no-cook recipes that are delicious, but without all the fuss. Let’s start with hors d’oeuvres. Casual get-togethers call for finger food, eliminating the need to maneuver utensils along with a plate or napkin and drink. Skewered snacks, like these Tomato and Mozzarella Bites, fit the bill. It’s a user-friendly spin on the more traditional tomato-mozzarella salad. It’s also perfect for vegetarians, and it’s gluten free.
20 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
20 fresh basil leaves
1 8-oz. container of Il Villaggio® Mozzarella Bocconcini Ciliegine
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Using the toothpicks, spear half a tomato, a leaf of basil, a mozzarella chunk and another half a tomato.
Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the oil and vinegar together in a small bowl and serve as a dipping sauce.
For those who eat meat (and pork products), Melon, Mozzarella & Prosciutto Skewers is a popular skewered snack. Like the above recipe, it’s both flavorful and colorful. The recipe takes advantage of succulent, in-season melons. Bruschetta is a crowd pleaser, too. It’s also ideal for entertaining, because you can make the topping ahead of time.
Tired of the traditional onion dip or spinach-artichoke dip? Try this delicious, cheesy Gorgonzola Dip instead. Gorgonzola gives the dip its great sharp flavor. While the dip is perfect for a bread bowl, you might want to reserve some to serve in a separate bowl, for those who avoid gluten. In fact, omit the walnuts too, and you’ll also please anyone with a nut allergy. You and your guests will love all three recipes.
Moving on to the main course, keep in mind that warmer temperatures call for lighter fare. Why not serve summertime wraps (yes, you may actually have to cook the bacon) and a variety of salads? Fresh vegetables, whether from your own garden or a local farmers’ market, are packed with flavor. You can make these salads as is, or experiment by adding your own ingredients, such as a protein (canned tuna or beans), olives or nut-free sunflower seeds to add crunchy texture. If you want a more filling salad, add pasta (but that defeats the purpose of a no-bake menu!). For a gluten-free option, substitute wheat pasta with as corn, brown rice or quinoa pasta. Of course, you can make the pasta ahead of time.
Last but not least, there’s dessert. In keeping with the lighter-fare theme, these treats are delicious and easy as pie to make — but no oven required! First, check out our gorgonzola-stuffed strawberries recipe. Note that you can make the cheese mixture (without the chopped strawberries) a day in advance. If you’re feeding a larger crowd, simply multiply the strawberry recipe ingredients as needs. And below is a yummy cake recipe; to simplify it even more, use a prepared graham cracker crust.
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Il Villaggio® mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
20 large strawberries, hulled & halved lengthwise
24 large blueberries
Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and melted butter in a bowl until mixture is thoroughly combined and crumbly. Transfer crust mixture to a 9×11″ baking dish. Press crust into bottom of dish until smooth and even. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
Mix cheeses in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract into mixture.
Whisk 1/3 cup sugar into whipping cream in a separate metal or glass bowl until the cream is fluffy and forms soft peaks. Add whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently whisk until filling is soft, fluffy, and well combined.
Spoon filling on top of the graham cracker crust, spreading and smoothing the top. Tap the pan gently on a work surface several times to settle the crust and filling. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 3 hours.
Starting at the bottom long edge of the cake, arrange strawberry halves in a horizontal line with the pointed bottoms of the strawberry halves pointing to the right. Start a second stripe of strawberry halves at the top right of the cake, arranging strawberries with the bottoms pointing right in a line stretching about 2/3 of the length of the cake. Continue to make strawberry stripes, starting about 3/4 inch up from the bottom stripe and laying down 3 more stripes stretching the full length of the cake. Make 1 more line of strawberries beneath the short stripe to leave a square space for the blue field of stars. Lay a line of blueberries with the blossom ends pointing up in the upper left square space. Continue to lay down blueberries in lines, berries touching the previous line, until the square is filled with blueberries.
Cut cake into squares to serve.